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Should I Go to Paris Now?  

That depends on why you want to go. If you’re going to Paris for the Olympics – then YES! But if you’re going to Paris to indulge in that romantic fantasy of quiet late night strolls along the Seine, then probably not. Paris is always a good idea, but it is worth considering that the city is getting ready for the 2024 Olympics. While Paris is a beautiful and romantic city, it’s good to know the realities of what is happening right now so that you can plan for any surprises.

Many streets and buildings are getting a facelift and no matter where you stay you’re likely to encounter construction. As I write this there is a jackhammer outside of my window that has been running nonstop all morning, except for a lunch break. It’s a good idea to bring some noise-canceling headphones or a noise-canceling tv-listening device if you plan to stay in an area where there may be construction. Typically construction is only during the daytime work hours, but if you’re trying to work or if the noise bothers you then it’s good to have a backup plan.

Many of the historical buildings are also getting some work done, so what you are likely to see is a visual representation of the facade printed onto a scrim and stretched across the front of the building. It’s definitely better than scaffolding, but if you’re an architectural purist then you may be disappointed. Notre Dame Cathedral is still undergoing restoration from the fire in 2019. It was scheduled to re-open in time for the 2024 Olympics but that has been pushed back to December 2024. Overall, you’ll likely find that most of the museums, chateaus, and cathedrals that you want to visit will be open.

Social disruptions happen often and sometimes without notice.  France 24 is an English-language newspaper that will publish the latest news and updates. It’s a great resource to keep handy while you’re in Paris. Depending on the scope and scale, the protest activity can have a significant impact on your plans or no impact at all. It’s really hard to anticipate. I went out one night and while I was waiting for the Metro train, the announcer let us know that there were spontaneous demonstrations on another train line that would cause the train to be delayed for over an hour. Surprise! All you can do is stay flexible.

Overall, the impacts of the social disruptions and construction are minimal and you may not even experience them at all, so don’t let this discourage you from making the trip.

Our Top Paris Travel Tips

1. Bring a Power Strip with USB Ports

Rather than bringing a bunch of outlet converters, I typically will bring one or two, and then a power strip. This makes life so much easier, and it can create a ‘charging station’ within your hotel or Airbnb that will make it easy to figure out where you left your phone (hint-check the power strip, it’s probably plugged in there). Every time I travel and pull out the power strip, people are blown away because they never thought of this. It’s easy – just pack it in your luggage and now you have a ton of charging options that don’t require converters.

2. Air Tags or Tiles

If you’re checking bags and not dropping in an Apple AirTag or Tile, you are just asking for a headache. Not only does this help you track your luggage, but it will also give you leverage when working with the airlines to locate and recover your bags.

I recommend taking a screenshot each day that your bag shows it is not with you. This will allow you to document its location by date and will help you when you need to justify your claims for purchases made while you weren’t with your bag.

3. Bring Advil  

Speaking of headaches…for most of us over a certain age, we know that Advil or Tylenol can be the difference between having fun or being laid up on the couch. When visiting Paris, you are likely to do a lot of walking – and you should! It’s a beautiful city to stroll through and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll rack up those steps on your fitness tracker. But, your body doesn’t always agree with this sudden influx of activity. Here comes Advil to save the day (or the trip)!

In France, Advil is typically sold in pharmacies, behind the counter – similar to how some antihistamines are sold in the US. But don’t go looking for this in the grocery store, you won’t find it there. The dosage is usually higher in Europe. American Advil tends to be 200-250mg per single tablet, while in Europe it may be 400mg per tablet. So be sure to check the packaging to make sure you’re taking the correct amount.

I also bring a small first aid kit with me when I travel. Mine has all of the basics; scissors, bandaids, and even Q-tips. Q-tips come in handy for those who wear hearing aids and need to dry their ears before inserting them. And when you’re on the go in Paris, you don’t want to sit around waiting for your ears to air-dry!

4. Downtime – Television & Streaming

If you plan to stay in an Airbnb it may list a TV as an amenity. Does it have a tv – probably yes. Does it work – probably not. I have spent many months in France in different Airbnbs and they all listed a TV and none have ever worked. I suspect this is a service that most hosts don’t want to pay for. 

If television is something that is important to you, consider bringing an iPad or laptop with a streaming service.  Some streaming services may not be offered outside of the United States.  One way to work around this is to use a VPN. I use Nord VPN, it’s easy to download and run on a laptop, phone, or iPad. In the most simple explanation, a VPN hides your location. Simply launch the VPN when you’re in France and set your location to the United States. Once this is running, it will appear as if you are in the USA and your streaming service should work.

Make sure you launch your VPN before you launch your browser or streaming service. You may also need to occasionally pause your VPN to access some websites. It’s not often, but I do encounter this from time to time. If you are trying to load a site and get an ‘Access Denied’ page, try pausing the VPN and then reloading the page. Nine out of ten times this will solve the issue.

Another little tip to make your downtime more enjoyable in the absence of TV is to bring a small Bluetooth speaker. I find I use this all the time; when I’m getting ready, ending the day, cleaning the apartment, and more. It’s a great way to bring a little creature comfort from home.

5. Bring A Canvas Tote

Most stores charge for a bag and it’s more or less expected that you have your own bag. If you don’t, that’s ok, they charge around 20-30 cents for you to buy a bag at the store. This sign was posted in Nice, France this week and it shows a recent example of prices if you need to buy a bag. But in general it’s a good idea to have a canvas tote rolled up and ready to go. 

It’s also helpful to have when going out for the day. At most restaurants, you will have to buy water, so it’s smart to carry a reusable water bottle for the day. You can also pack extra clothes, snacks, sunglasses, hats, and anything else you might need for a day trip. Many vendors sell printed tote bags as souvenirs on the streets too, so if you forgot one, then you get a nice souvenir!

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A Detailed Rundown of the 2024 Paris Olympics and the Tour de France

What, Where, When for the Olympics

Ring the bells and sound the drums! The Olympics are here…and there…and over there. Despite being called the “Paris” Olympics, events will be taking place all across France. Before you plan your trip and buy your event tickets, be sure to research exactly what events you want to see, when and where the event is happening, and how you will be able to get there. Unfortunately, you may not be able to see every event, but that doesn’t mean you can get the bang for your buck. 

You can check the official Paris Olympics website to get all of the information you would need and can plan out trains, buses, cars, and more according to your schedule. Here is a general map of where events will be taking place across France.

What, Where, When for the Tour de France

Also if you are looking to watch something other than the Olympics, go see the Tour de France!

It will start on June 29 in Florence, Italy, and finish on July 21 in Nice, France, right before the Olympics begins! It usually ends in Paris but due to the Games, starting July 26, they had to make some adjustments. The Tour will cover a distance of 3,405.6 kilometers through Italy, San Marino, Monaco, and various regions of France, with a total elevation gain of 52,230 meters​​​​.

The final stage of the race will be an individual time trial from Monaco to Nice on July 21 if you want to plan out your trip accordingly. This marks the first time in 35 years that the Tour de France will conclude with a time trial, adding an exciting twist to the race’s finale​​​​. Since the Tour de France wraps up right before the Olympics, it might be smart to extend your trip back a couple days and take advantage of this unique opportunity of back-to-back events!

Get more information here

Traveling Within France

You are going to want to see more than just one Olympic event when you visit France. Remember that even though it is called the 2024 Paris Olympics, not every event will be in Paris. You may need to travel to Marseille to see sailing, Château de Versailles for equestrian events, or even Nice or Bordeaux for football and more. To do so, you will need to understand which modes of transportation are best for you. So, let’s take a look and figure out how to get you to these various events.

Let’s start with the airport. There are two major airports in Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly. For Charles de Gaulle the trainline RER B costs €11.80, runs straight from the airport and makes several stops throughout Paris. RoissyBus for €16.60 is another option that stops at Paris-Opéra at the corner of Rue Scribe and Rue Auber. If you would rather take a taxi or Uber from the airport, it will cost you about 50-60 euros depending on where you are headed.

For Orly, it also offers the RER B for €14.50 but has less stops so be sure to look them up beforehand. The OrlyBus costs €11.20 is another option that will stop primarily at Denfert-Rochereau. Lastly, a taxi or uber from this location will cost slightly less around 40 euros. 

Nice, a city in Southern France, also has a major airport called the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur). It’s located about 6 kilometers southwest of the city center and is the third busiest airport in France. If you fly into this airport, be aware that in 2023, France implemented a ban on certain short-haul domestic flights, specifically targeting routes that can be completed by train in less than two-and-a-half hours. This ban will most likely still be in effect, so if you are trying to travel between Paris and cities like Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux, look to take the train rather than a plane.

Once you get into Paris, the metro and the RER train line are the quickest ways to navigate the city and reach most Olympic venues. The Paris Metro and RER networks are extensive and will connect you to major sites like Stade de France, La Défense, and other key locations​​​​.

Within the suburban areas, the RER trains are essential. For instance, the RER D takes you to the Stade de France, and the RER B serves the Bourget Sport Climbing Venue​​. For Olympic events taking place outside Paris, such as in Lille or Marseille, you can rely on France’s extensive national rail service, operated by SNCF. High-speed TGV trains connect Paris to other major cities efficiently, making it feasible to stay in Paris and travel to events around the country​​.

Regarding buses, while not as fast as the metro, buses can take you closer to some venues that might not be directly served by metro or RER lines. However, remember that bus service might end earlier in the evening, though additional services are likely during the Olympics​​.

Paris is also promoting cycling and walking, with additional bike lanes and rental bikes available. This can be a great way to avoid crowded public transport and see the city​​​​.

Other Tips for Navigating Paris: Geography and Language

If you’re planning to visit Paris but you don’t speak French, that’s ok. It’s always good to know a little of the language, but many people will recognize that you don’t speak the language and will do their best to help you.  Many restaurants will offer menus in English, and even the Metro will make announcements in English.  

In the case where you simply can’t bridge the language barrier, I recommend downloading the Google Translate app.  I like the camera feature, simply hold your camera over whatever you’re trying to read and it will translate for you directly. You can take a picture as well, but it’s not required.  

For those with vision impairment, or if you just left your readers at home, then the Magnifier app is your savior. Again, this app uses the camera and turns it into a magnifying glass. Just hold it over what you’re trying to read, and voila!

While Google Maps is a great tool for finding your way around, I prefer the Citymapper app. Citymapper allows you to put in your destination and then it will tell you all of the options for how to get there- walk, bus, train, bike, scooter. It shows how long it will take, what the cost will be, and even the best train car on the Metro line to sit in. Like Google Maps, it also has live navigation so you can quickly see whether or not you’re heading in the right direction.

The Paris 2024 Pass

Once you get to Paris, you can purchase the Paris 2024 pass, which offers unlimited rides in all transport zones, including trips to both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. This is a great option if you are planning on using public transport everyday no matter where you go​​.

Olympic Construction and City Expansion

As mentioned, Paris has wasted no time or expenses on preparing the city for the Olympics. They have undertaken new construction projects as well as updates to existing infrastructure and buildings to enhance the city’s functionality and sustainability for the anticipated crowds. At the moment, it is estimated that around 84% of Paris 2024 Olympics construction is finished. The games are set to start on July 26th, leaving less than 78 days to prepare. Let’s take a look at what’s been done:

New Constructions

Infrastructure and Transportation Enhancements

Environmental and Urban Upgrades

Be mindful that while these projects help prepare for the Olympics, they are also being done in alignment with Paris’ long-term sustainability and mobility goals with the aim to leave a lasting positive impact on the city post-Games.

Pay For Where You Stay

During the many Olympic events, you can expect to pay significantly higher prices for hotel accommodations due to an expected spike in demand, I mean who doesn’t want to go to the Olympics?. Average daily rates for select hotels could soar as high as $1,000 per night. Even the more “reasonably priced” options will average between $500 and $600 per night​​. If you want another option, you could consider staying in nearby cities like Versailles, which is still easily accessible to Paris and will potentially be less crowded overall. We recommend doing thorough research into Airbnb and other vacation rental options since new places could be popping up online everyday. Check frequently and look for variety and possibly better deals as the Olympics approaches​​. 

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Travel Insurance

Hey, you never know what could happen! If you’re going to the Olympics, to see the Tour De France, or just for vacation, here’s just some options for travel insurance.

Going Out and About: Tourist Attractions During the Olympics

Thinking about going to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, maybe even the Arc De Triomphe…well think again. Yes, the top attractions in Paris and throughout France for that matter, are expected to be exceptionally busy during the Olympics. Along with the millions of additional guests Paris will be hosting, the Olympics also coincide with the peak tourist season, meaning everyone and their mother will be there. While you can anticipate exceptionally long lines for everything, we want to help prepare you with some more information about opening times, ticket availability, and other suggestions if you are planning on visiting.

First, regarding changes to opening times, as of now, there has not been specific mention of extended hours for the major attractions during the Olympics. It’s always a good idea to check the official websites for the attractions you are planning on seeing as the event approaches, as they can probably provide you with the most current information and any announcements about extended hours or special visitor instructions.

Next, to secure entry to popular sites like the Louvre or Versailles, it is advisable to purchase tickets in advance. Most major attractions offer online booking options, which can help you avoid long lines and ensure entry on your preferred day and time. Considering the expected crowds, booking tickets online ahead of time will be even more crucial during the Olympic period.

Lastly, for a smoother experience visiting these attractions during the Olympics, planning ahead is essential. Try to schedule visits during less popular times of the day if possible, and always keep updated on any changes to public transportation and attraction accessibility due to the Olympics, as this could impact your travel plans within the city​​.

Updates on the Notre Dame Cathedral

The reconstruction efforts have been ongoing since the fire in 2019, and the goal has been to restore the cathedral accurately to its former state. While the original plan was to open in time for the Paris Olympics, the completion date is now scheduled for December 2024.

Pickpocketing and Scams

Pickpockets are a big problem in France in general. Add the Olympics and you can be sure there are people looking for easy opportunities. If you don’t know what to look for, you could easily get caught up in a trick. For instance, you may be walking around town and someone may ask you to take their photo…well, if they are persistent and insistent and keep asking you to re-take the photo then it might be a scam.  If you feel weird, or they seem off, it’s best to say ‘no’ and just keep walking. This may still not be enough to deter them. If they continue to follow and pester you, get loud in your protests, draw attention to yourself. This extra attention is exactly what scammers do NOT want. Also, while this is happening, slide your hand over your handbag or wallet, to help prevent the scammer.

Another trap is people asking you to “sign my petition”. This is a common misdirection tactic where they’ll shove a clipboard with a petition halfway completed and ask you to sign it. This clipboard is positioned about waist-high and strategically blocks your view of your bag so that they can maneuver their way into your purse and hand your money and passport off to an accomplice usually following a few steps behind. Beyond these common traps, here’s what else to look out for:

So, how can you avoid them? First and foremost, prevent it before it happens and don’t carry everything in your purse. Leave your passport and one credit card and some cash in your hotel safe. That way if you do get pickpocketed, you haven’t lost everything. I like to also make photocopies of my passport while I travel, along with both sides of my credit cards. If I lose either, then I have all the details I need to contact the embassy or customer service.

Moreover, you can use anti-theft bags or money belts to keep your valuables secure. Always zip up your bags and keep them in sight. In general, keeping an eye on your surroundings, especially in crowded places can help you avoid getting overly distracted by street performances or commotions that might be set-ups for pickpocketing. Also, always purchase tickets from official sources and avoid buying merchandise from street vendors unless they are clearly authorized. You’re going to the Olympics to take some pictures and make some lifelong memories, not lose all of them. 

One Final Thought

Paris is an amazing city full of rich cultural history and incredible food. Even with the traffic and construction and social disruptions, you’re still in for an amazing adventure. You just have to go into the adventure with a realistic view of what is happening in Paris right now. If you stay flexible with your plans, you’re likely to have a great time! It’s never been easier or more fun to travel. From apps to AirTags, you have so much control over your experience. With just a little planning you can have an amazing adventure.

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